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Weekly Roundup: April 14, 2023


At the Blog

On Monday, James Nelson, Liz Sepper, and Kate Redburn laid out how Groff v. DeJoy, a case concerning religious accommodation in the workplace, threatens to open a new vein of litigation on behalf of religious workers and, as a result, undermine collective power in the workplace. As they write, “If Groff prevails on this issue, employers around the country will be mandated to inflict the burdens of one religious worker’s accommodation on their co-workers up to the point that the business itself is significantly harmed. Other employees may be forced to permanently switch shifts—or even move from daytime to nighttime shifts. Workers who travel may be forced into less profitable routes or given less time off between trips…. Fellow employees who are compelled to bear the costs of others’ religious exercise are likely to grow divided. As counsel for TWA worried nearly 50 years ago, preferential accommodation ‘is ripe with the potential to ignite dissension among employees over another employee’s special treatment.’ The workplace may become more fragmented and factional.”

And on Wednesday, Tommaso Bardelli, Zach Gillespie, and Thuy Linh Tu explained how an austerity-driven approach to criminal justice reform, while hardly making a dent in the US prison population, has opened the door to a slate of budget cuts, ultimately shifting the cost of basic services onto those incarcerated and their families. Most states, they write, “have slashed their budgets for prison food services. The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, which spent $8.96 per day to feed an incarcerated person in 1996, now spends $2.61. Over the same period, Florida cut its daily prison food budget from $5.65 per inmate all the way down to $2.02. As states reduced spending, a multibillion-dollar prison retail industry emerged to fill the gaps in public provisions. Most incarcerated individuals now purchase extra food, clothing, hygiene, and other goods from external vendors who charge exorbitant rates for phone calls, money transfers, and commissaries.”  

In LPE Land

Today, livestream the Berkeley conference on Reviving Progressive Constitutional Political Economy. You can find a schedule here, and the livestream link is here.

You may never click a link so fast: Aziz Rana reviews Ntina Tzouvala’s Capitalism as Civilisation: A History of International Law.

The NYT puts some faces to the consequences of non-competes. Worth a watch. Relatedly, in the Washington Post, Sandeep Vaheesan applauds the FTC’s proposed ban on non-compete clauses, while noting that it contains a major loophole: it doesn’t categorically outlaw training repayment agreement provisions (or TRAPs) and other non-compete-like contracts. For more on the subject, check out David Seligman’s reaction in our rapid roundtable on the ban, as well as Jonathan Harris’ recent post about using consumer law to protect workers.

Over at Notice & Comment, Luke Herrine discusses the CFPB’s new policy statement on “abusive acts and practices,” and explains why it might augur a paradigm shift.

You can read about Veena Dubal’s recent research on algorithmic wage discrimination in the Los Angeles Times, or you can listen to hear talk about it on Marketplace (interview starts at 9:28). (Or, you know, just read about it in your friendly neighborhood Blog).

In the Washington Post, Saule Omarova describes how publicly provided transaction deposits can work alongside private finance.

In the American Journal of International Law, former LPE blog editor Sam Aber has published his first academic article: “Worldmaking at the End of History: The Gulf Crisis of 1990–91 and International Law.”

If you’re at Princeton on Monday, April 17, Kate Redburn will be talking about the culture wars, political economy, and the pending “303 Creative LLC” SCOTUS decision.

If you’re at YLS on Wednesday, April 19, Corinne Blalock will be talking LPE and legal theory as part of the Foundations of US Legal Thought Series.

And if you’re in New Jersey, go support the Rutgers strike!